Itchy, painful ears can affect your dog’s quality of life quite significantly. It also affects your quality of life if you know that your dog is in pain or even just in discomfort as having sore ears is very painful and sadly very common in our dogs.
Food allergy as a main cause of itchy ears
Allergic skin disease is one of the primary causes of itchy ears.
The ears are lined with skin and if you dog suffers with atopy ie an allergy of its skin, then they will scratch their ears or shake their head. Your vet will advise you on the best form of treatment for an atopic itchy skin. The gold standard treatment is Cytopoint injections that are given monthly (eventually every 6 weeks) to keep the itching under control. Cutaneous adverse food reactions or food allergies are the most common cause of itchy ears.
A novel protein plant-based diet made of 100% balanced wheat free | soya free | dairy free | animal protein free | corn free food eliminates all the most common allergens in your dog’s diet and is the kindest, safest way to treat your dog.
As animal protein is the main cause of food allergies in dogs; your vet will most likely recommend a hydrolysed protein commercial diet. These include Purina Hypoallergenic HA food that contains sugar as one of its ingredients to improve its palatability – this is not acceptable to sustain or even feed our dogs on a diet that has refined sugar as one of its ingredients – much kinder to feed a homemade plant-based diet where you can choose all the ingredients that you are adding.
Royal Canin Anallergenic, is another hydrolysed protein diet that may be recommended that is made of broken down chicken feathers, or ‘hydrolysed protein by-product aggregates’ as they state on their packaging – again not acceptable.
Sadly most vets will tell you the only way they have been taught – to feed a novel protein to your dog instead of a plant-based diet. These ‘novel proteins’ ie proteins that your itchy pet may never have come into contact with before, offer non-sustainable and unkind options. These pet foods may contain duck or deer or rabbit or ostrich. As animal lovers, we don’t even want to imagine how these beautiful animals used in novel diets are transported and slaughtered just to feed our itchy pets.
Plant-based diets can also be made to be more beneficial to the skin barrier function (that is normally compromised in our itchy atopic pets who constantly chew and lick their paws and scratch their ears), as they can have the addition of the purest form of EPA and DHA as Omega 3 Algae oil supplements as well as the addition of healthy skin function minerals such as Biotin, Zinc and Vitamin E. It is easier to find these in plant-based healthy homemade plant-based diets than in commercial dry foods where they are added in as supplements rather than coming straight from the plant source. Anything that strengthens the important skin barrier is vital to stop your itchy pet from scratching – we feel plant-based diets offer the kindest most sustainable solution.
VEGDOG’s Green Crunch is also fortified with antioxidants that protect a vital immune system from fighting secondary skin infections and yeast infections.
Other causes of ear infections
Please be aware that food intolerances are not the only cause of recurrent ear infections in middle aged dogs. Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism are also to blame for itchy ears in our more mature dogs that also begin to show some signs of appearing tired, maybe loosing fur over their back, and they may begin to put on weight – exactly the same as happens to us owners who may develop hypothyroidism. The treatment is exactly the same. A simple blood test to prove it is this condition and tablets of thyroxin that are cheap and very effective in treatment!
Swimming is another cause of chronic recurrent ear problems in our dogs – especially if your dog has heavy, hanging ears that are not able to dry effectively. This is a difficult one to manage as so many of our dogs just love the water and it is so good for them. Ensuring an extra strong and healthy immune system on a plant-based diet should hopefully eliminate recurrent infections.
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We discuss the most common allergen in itchy dogs and what can be done about it